Inequality goes back to the Stone Age

28 May 2012. Inequality Dates Back to Stone Age: Earliest Evidence Yet of Differential Access to Land. ScienceDaily. Hereditary inequality began over 7,000 years ago in the early Neolithic era, with new evidence showing that farmers buried with tools had access to better land than those buried without.

Professor Bentley said: “Our results, along with archaeobotanical studies that indicate the earliest farmers of Neolithic Germany had a system of land tenure, suggest that the origins of differential access to land can be traced back to an early part of the Neolithic era, rather than only to later prehistory when inequality and intergenerational wealth transfers are more clearly evidenced in burials and material culture.

“It seems the Neolithic era introduced heritable property (land and livestock) into Europe and that wealth inequality got underway when this happened. After that, of course, there was no looking back: through the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Industrial era wealth inequality increased but the ‘seeds’ of inequality were sown way back in the Neolithic.”

R. Alexander Bentley, Penny Bickle, Linda Fibiger, Geoff M. Nowell, Christopher W. Dale, Robert E. M. Hedges, Julie Hamilton, Joachim Wahl, Michael Francken, Gisela Grupe, Eva Lenneis, Maria Teschler-Nicola, Rose-Marie Arbogast, Daniela Hofmann, and Alasdair Whittle. Community differentiation and kinship among Europe’s first farmers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 29, 2012



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